tv Politics Nation MSNBC October 3, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
live edition of "hardball." "politicsnation" with al sharpton starts right now. thanks, chris. and thanks to you for tuning in. tonight's lead, fight night in denver. in just under three hours, president obama and governor romney will meet on the stage at the university of colorado in their first debate where tens and millions of americans watching at home. the debate will showcase two competing visions for america, two conflicting views of government, a clash of ideas about the kind of democracy we want. it could hardly be a more stark choice for the country. but this is also personal it's about two men and who are and how they will connect with the american people. no doubt about it, this is a big
night. join me now, cynthia tucker and erin mcpike who covers the campaign for real clear politics. thank you both for coming on the show. >> thank you. >> thanks for having me. >> erin, let me go to you first. mitt romney is behind. what does he need to cover up? what does he need to do tonight? >> he needs to show, especially middle class voters, that he has a plan. we've already heard from the obama campaign that the president is likely to push mitt romney on specifics and in the past couple of days he has telegraphed that we might see more specifics like immigration, especially tax policy. that's what we're going to be hearing more from him tonight, some specifics so that when a president bushes him, he's ready. >> now, one of the big gaffes or big mistakes, sin nilla, that
we've seen from rom knee is this tape, the 47% and that's bound to come ut many say tonight, either from the president or from the moderator. bill clinton today, take a listen. >> i couldn't believe the other day when the president's opponent said 47% of american people who don't pay income tax just want to hang around and be president. we just have to wean them off because they don't want to pay income tax. now, a guy with a tax account in the cayman islands is attacking other people? when you really bust someone for what you did, it really takes a lot of gal, you know. >> now, that's former president clinton. will the president go after mitt romney tonight? do you think? >> well, it's hard to imagine
that somebody, either jim lehrer or the president himself, won't bring up the 47% video because it has been devastating to romney. obama has used it in ads and it plays into the perception of romney as a very rich guy who is completely out of touch with ordinary voters. however, i can't imagine that romney hasn't are practiced responses to that. he's already had an ad where he sits down, faces the camera, he tries to assure voters that he wants to help 100% of americans, everybody. but the danger for romney is seeming fake or false when he tries to connect. he has, no doubt, practiced a lot, rehearsed a lot. he has a lot of answers already planned but can he seem genuine when he's given that answer -- those answers as something to
watch out for? >> now, erin, the 47%, according to all polling, has really crushed romney. the latest poll shows 45% of americans said it gave them a more negative view of romney. now the polls show 55% had a negative reaction. so he has to deal with it if it comes up and it's likely to come up. you heard cynthia say that he's had to have some kind of answer and he's had to have an answer. >> his campaign had said earlier that, yes, they absolutely do expect to have things come up and yes they will be ready. one of the things that we keep hearing him say on the campaign trail is that he cares about 100% of americans but the real way we pekts them to diffuse is that he and president obama both care about all americans to say that they are on the same pain.
that's the way that he will likely deal with it, that they both care about everyone. >> now, let me go back to you, cynthia. cynthia, let me give you a lot of people that are conservative that are giving advice to mr. romney. peg knee noonan says, tell romney to treat the president with represent and not different. newt gingrich says be on offense without being offensive. dash of humor is worth its weight in gold. go large, and explain his tax plan, and on and on and on. what's he going to do? what should he do tonight? what advice should he take? >> well, you know, mitt romney is suffering from advice. conservatives are clearly, clearly concerned about the poll
numbers which have shown him behind. the race may be tightening a bit but the race is still behind in key swing state. what advice? good question. i'll be looking to see which advice he decides to follow but i think the average voter want some specifics from mitt romney. partisans, conservatives who have already made up their minds may want him to attack the president. you know, go after him, be aggressive. but i think undecided voters out there who are giving romney a second look want specifics about how he is is going to improve the economy to them, for them, and about taxes. give us a plan for balancing the budget that makes sense. you know, romney plans to cut taxes for the rich, enlarge the military, no military cuts, basically, and he says balance the budget. well, most economists have said
the math just doesn't added a v looking for mitt romney to explain that. give us some straightforward answers that add up and make sense. >> now, erin, it is romney that's going to have to convince the american people because the president is the incumbent. so you assume romney's got to bring the fight to him. when you deal with the big picture economic issues and the economic issues that we're looking at today, how's he going to deal with it? let me give you an example. he was on "meet the press" and david gregory tried to press him on specifics. let me show you what happened. >> give me an example of a loophole that you will close. >> well, i can tell you that people at the high end, high income taxpayers are going to have fewer exemptions.
>> the devil's in the details. the angel is in the policy. >> can you go into a debate, erin, with just kind of talking around it, the devil's in the details, loopholes without specifying which loophole deductions without saying which ones? doesn't he have to be more specific tonight and really show that he has a detailed plan that is superior or at least equal to what the president has been saying? >> he does and in the past couple of days he has done some of that. he floated the idea of capping deductions at $17,000 a year. so we'll see some of that from him. it's interesting to see what the president might do to respond to that $17,000 cap that mitt romney floated. i am sure that the obama campaign has been thinking about thinking up an answer that he can answer on that. i've also heard that the president is likely to get more specific on his own tax plan for a second term tonight as well.
we should see some more from him tonight on that, too. >> cynthia, let me run down -- the debate is going to be 90 minutes long. six 15-minutes long. three on the economy, one on health care, one on the role of government, and one on governing. who does this format favor, in your opinion? >> well, i think that tomorrow we're going to be listening to pundits say that mitt romney did what he needed to do. it favors the challenger just by putting him on the same stage with the president. however, mitt romney has several obstacles to overcome. not only does he have to give specifics as we've been talking about, he has to appear warm. he has to seem empathetic.
he has to connect with the voters he hasn't connected with before. but it's also true that pitfalls face the president. obama clearly, genuinely does not like mitt romney. and while he can go after him aggressively on policy, the president shouldn't seem mean-spirited, pet tu lant, or smug. so there are some pitfalls facing both candidates, some mind fields out there. >> cynthia, erin, thank you for being here tonight. cynthia, i agree with you. if you stay on msnbc, the pundits will be out tonight, not tomorrow morning, saying what should have happened. >> tonight. yes. tonight. >> stay right here. coming up, it's rare for these two men to be in the same room and tonight it's personal. we've seen reports of real
dislike. "time" magazine's rick stingle previews the big night. and the bombshell tape from mat drudge and fox news turns out to be five years old. their playbook is tired, old, and wreaks of desperation. all of that, plus, the big question is, which mitt romney will show up tonight and you're watching a special edition of "politicsnation" as we get ready for the big debate, the big debate in denver tonight. stay with us. >> we have osama bin laden in our sights and the pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then i think that we have to act and we will take them out. we will kill bin laden, we will crush al qaeda. that has to be our biggest national security priority. ♪
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have you checked us out on facebook? the "politicsnation" conversation is going all day long. today, everyone was making their predictions for the big debate. rima thinks obama will be brilliant, informed, and won't depend on any zingers. debbie says, it will be refreshing if romney tells us where he stands on these issues. our facebook fans are wishing president obama and the first lady a happy 20th wedding anniversary. anita says, happy anniversary to two great role models. and burt says, a debate victory would be an excellent anniversary present. i'd like to thank all of you who came to my facebook page to wish me a happy birthday. we want you to join us too. head over to facebook and search
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that's a live picture of the stage where president obama and governor romney will meet late they are evening. these two men have different ideas on the economy, different ideas on social issues, different ideas on health care. but they do agree on one thing, the other guy is a great debater. mr. romney's senior adviser issued a memo calling president obama, saying that he's a
universally-acclaimed public speaker with special gifts. as for congressman paul ryan, he's just gushing about the president's skills. >> president obama's a very -- he's a very gifted speaker. the man's been on the national stage for many years, he's an experienced debater. he's done these kinds of debates before. this is mitt's first time on this kind of a stage. >> forget my running mate. the president's the guy to watch but not everyone agrees. >> i know folks in the media are speculating already on who's going to have the best zingers. i don't know about that. you know, who's going to put the most points on the board. >> you are. no, no, governor romney, he's a good debater. i'm just okay. >> so they are praising each other. but something tells me we won't see too many compliments on that stage tonight.
joining me now is rick stengle, editor of "time"'s magazine called, who is telling the truth, the fact war. what does governor romney need to do tonight, in your opinion? >> one of the things he needs to do is to seem presidential. one of the things that folks haven't been talking about is if you go back to reagan/carter in 1980, what were people looking for? ronald reagan, can he stand on the stage with president carter? will he seem presidential? we sometimes forget that president obama is the president. he'll be sharing that space. in many ways, that's the biggest and first calculation that people make. they will say, could he, governor romney, that is, have that role or not. >> and does he belong on that stage in the first place and then does he look presidential? and you're right, because ronald
reagan was an actor in many people's minds, even though he was governor of california. and then they were stunned when he walked on that stage and said, i agree with most of reagan's policies but he seemed presidential. >> right. and he didn't stumble and then he was calm. he felt -- he felt like he deserved to be there. i think one of the things that governor romney has to do is not only share that he deserves to be there but that he has some substan, more than people realize. >> substantial and national review reports that romney's team thinks it's critical that romney endure himself to the american people in this debate. they say, quote, romney's advisers acknowledge that it will be difficult for him to endear himself to the country, especially under the hot studio lights but they consider it critical. this is really about introducing him to the country. it's the largest audience he has ever had. everybody's watching.
>> it will be the most important hour of his political life. one of the things i found when i interviewed romney before the republican convention, we did it down in new orleans, he hasn't done this yet but he's very at ease talking about finance, talking about business. as a consultant, he was involved in many, many different industries. he can talk about technology, about retail, about cars. i think people want to see, what's your expertise? what is it about your background and knowledge base that would make you a better leader in terms of free jobs? he hasn't he can plained that very well. >> your interview in the september 3rd issue of "time ", you pressed him on tax loopholes, which ones he would close. you kind of went at him to really give specifics. >> right. >> and his response was, i know our democrat friends would love to have me specify one of or two
so they could amass the special interest to fight that effort. can he get away with that tonight? i mean, he hinted at details recently but will he be forced to be more specific? >> i'm going to make a prediction here on your show. >> okay. >> which is that actually tonight he will reveal something about those deductions, which ones he would eliminate. i bet he will mention, for example, the mortgage interest deduction, he will say, we will do something about that. i'll bet that he will come out and say something substantial along those lines that he has not said before, in part really for people like us to go, oh, now he's really coming forward with details. >> now, also without giving him an van, the president cannot be expected to respond to something he does not know will be proposed. >> you go over so many different alternative. i bet each of these guys will have seen almost every possible thing that could come out of the
ether there, you know, things that you and i would not necessarily have thought of. so they are probably -- at this point, they are both overprepped. >> let me raise another point to you. even written by politicals, they share some light into the president and his feelings about president obama. according to thrush, president obama began campaign preparations feeling neutral about romney, but like the former governor's gop opponents in 2008 and 2012, he picked up a level of anger he never had for clinton or mccain, even after sarah palin was picked as his running mate. if it gets personal tonight, how careful do both men have to be with their tone? >> well, i actually think one of the great myths with
presidential politics is that at some point somebody does a story about, hey, it's personal. these were always very competitive guys. it's like lebron and kobe, do they want to play each other? i don't know. but they want to beat each other. the discord in this race is almost less than any i have ever seen. neither of these guys are a hater. they are both very focused. they are no drama guy. and whether they dislike each other or not is immaterial. doesn't matter. >> rich stengel, thank you for your time this evening. coming up, the right dusts off their old racial playbook and rush limbaugh is fanning the flames. it's ugly. plus, the gop todd akin problem just got worse. you're watching a special edition of "politicsnation" as we get ready for the big night here on msnbc. stay with us.
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got worse. akin is, of course, the missouri senate candidate who six weeks ago set off a huge controversy with an absurd legitimate rape comment. now slate magazine uncovered video of the congressman giving a speech on the house floor from 2008. in it, he slams abortion doctors as terrorists, saying that they sometimes perform abortions on women who are, quote, actually not pregnant. how's that even possible? but listen to what else akin said about abortion? >> and yet just as slavery is fundamentally unamerican, so even more so, anything that violates the most fundamental right, the right to life. >> he's comparing slavery to a medical procedure. it's another reminder from todd akin about the war on women
waged by his party. just this week we saw him caught on tape saying it's okay for a woman to be paid less than a man for the same work and saying his opponent, claire mccaskill, was more lady like in 2006. but somehow republicans are lining up to support him, even some that six weeks ago said he wouldn't support him, like reince priebus, and now calls it his obligation. big names are getting behind akin, like jim demint and roy blunt and pete sessions and michele bachmann and newt gingrich. governor romney called on mr. akin to lead leave the race weeks ago. what does he think now? he might not be asked about akin tonight but sometime soon he will. what will he say? governor of getting it done. you know how to dance...
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"politicsnation" with the right wings lame effort to cook up an october surprise in the election. the daily caller website claimed they dug up obama's other race speech and ran with it straight to fox news. >> a bombshell is about to be dropped on the 2012 race for the white house because tonight you will hear from barack obama like you have never heard from him before. this is a journalist that has been tried to hide for years, a glimpse into the mind of the real barack obama. >> a bombshell. a glimpse into the mind of the real barack obama. oh, sounds shocking. so what did they have? a five-year-old speech open ohhed to the opened to the public and widely covered during the 2008 campaign but this
caller had a bizarre explanation why old news was suddenly new news. >> people say, this has already been reported. actually, it hasn't been reported and i know because i reported on it the first time. >> he knows it hasn't been reported because he reported on it. okay, roger. roger that. it shows just how desperate the right wing is and today conservative websites jumped on board, going back to their old playbook and dredging up their most offensive rhetoric to attack the president and they've embarrassed themselves with this latest attempt to cook up an october surprise. joining me now is james peterson, professional professor and contributor to thegrio.com. thanks for being here tonight. >> thank you.
>> ana marie, this was the big bombshell that wasn't. but what do you say to the right wing in this election? >> you've mentioned it. it screams desperation. it's a 2007 surprise. their timing is off, to say the least. i always knew that the gop wanted to turn the clock back in america but i thought they were going to turn it back a little further than 2007. 2007 seems pretty recent to me. actually, i was watching fox last night with a civilian friend of mine who happens to be conservative and he was very excited to see this tape and when it came on, he looked a little -- he was interested and watching it and said, wait main, it looks like he's giving that speech in front of an audience. so, wait, so he gave it in public? and so i don't think this is actually working with real people out there. >> not only did he give it in public, the press was there. he was announced candidate for
president, mr. peterson, dr. peterson. >> yes. >> you laughed. this is unbelievable to me. >> it's -- it's unbelievable. one, the tape's been on youtube since it came out. take a look at it. look at the comments in con tectec text, too. folks like hannity and tucker carlson are playing to their base. i don't think normal independents or the few people still undecided in this race are going to be impacted by this but for the red meat radical right, this is fodder for trying to get folks more ginned up on things that don't matter in this election. >> ana marie, june 5th, 2007, the day of the speech, some of the media that reported was nbc
news, chicago sun-times, abc, politico. politico wrote about it on september 7th, 2008. oh, and look who else reported on the video. fox news. >> right. >> back on june 5th, 2007. >> and tucker carlson himself. >> tucker carlson. >> so this is the new bombshell, ana marie? >> well, as a blogger, i'm always happy when the bar is lowered for what news is but this is even lower for me. i think i like to think that i can do a lot of real reporting using google and youtube but i don't think that even i would call something that was five years old breaking news. >> and covered. >> that's right. i've always had a lot of respect for drudge and his siren but maybe it's time to retire that now. >> ana marie makes a good point, though. rush limbaugh is going to get a
couple segment out of it. it helps in sort of their news cycle generate more discourse. >> rush came in but i don't think he could help him on this one. let me tell you what rush had to say. he was ann agree guy. >> well, i've always known this guy is an angry guy. i've all known that this guy had a chip on his shoulder a problem with this country and i've always known that he was post racial. >> now, he's ann agree guy because of this speech but abc, nbc, all of these reports that covered it were there. he duped them all. >> the fact that president obama is black actually equates to him being angry. for those of us who live in the real world, this is one of the
most moderate and compassionate and diplomatic presidents we've had in recent memory. i don't know if this has any tracks with independents or with folks on the left. >> well, anna marie, dr. peterson brings up race. let me go there. george will wrote a column about the election and wrote a very controversial line about whether the president should be re-elected. let me quote that. he says, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure, thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him, seems especially reluctant to give up on the first african-american president. if so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation's heart, if not its head. so now he's saying that the
nation does not obama want to admit that it made a mistake but certainly don't want to do it to an african-american. that's a new twist in race, ana marie. >> yes, it is. and rush limbaugh has referred to him as the action president. i'd like to think of him as just the president. i would say that they don't like to fire people as much as mitt romney does. so we tend to want to give people another chance. it's mazing how this comes up. i'm willing to give him another four years. i think george will is right about the sentiment of american people and for him to bring race into it, i'm not sure it's -- >> it's crazy. >> i'll go with what peterson said. it's crazy. >> i'm running out of time but the new york times did report that a group of high ro file
republican strategists put together a plan to attack president obama by linking the president once again to reverend jeremiah wright. this was in may. the "new york times" wrote it saying, quote, do exactly what john mccain would not let us do in 2008. the plans suggested hiring an extremely literate african-american to sell the message and label the president a metrosexual black abe lincoln. >> yeah. listen, i'm not sure exactly -- >> that's a halloween costume. >> i don't know what they mean by the last comment. but george will who i normally respect, this president has enjoyed the numbers that he is now and despite the rags initialized attacks. the reason this deck was disapproved by romney is because they don't need it. they've had the welfare ads and this strategy has been in place in other ways and it was exposed
early enough so folks could see the inner workings behind back room door strategy sessions. >> well, it's playing into that stereotype. angry black man. i know some blacks that are angry that he's not more angry. >> how about that and happy birthday, rev. >> thank you. james peterson, ana marie cox, thank you for your time tonight. >> yep. and happy birthday. >> thank you. still ahead, it all comes down to this. 19 primary debates for romney but none on the biggest stage in politics. president obama's been here before. so what will happen tonight? we'll talk about it on this special edition of "politicsnation" as we gear up to nbc's primetime coverage of the first presidential debate of 2012. stay with us.
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welcome back. president obama gets the first question at tonight's debate and mitt romney will have the last word in the debate that 50 million americans may be watching. the stage is set for the highest of political drama. joining me now is abby huntsman, host and producer of huff post live. and she helped prep hillary clinton for the debates four years ago. thank you to you both for being here. >> great to be here. >> abby, what's the biggest danger for governor romney tonight? >> reverend, let me start by wishing you a happy birthday tonight. >> you have a file on me, i hear. i hope everything is fine or good. >> i think we'll survive unless you can't hear me but i would
say the biggest challenge that mitt romney has is he's in a box. no matter what he says, it's likely he says the complete opposite in his past. look, people are wanting to see the real mitt romney. they want to know who he really is. i think his biggest challenge is not being himself. >> now, your dad, jon huntsman, was a candidate against him and debated against him. did you have a problem, which romney is going to show snup. >> that's what people are asking, is the conservative romney or moderate romney when he ran against senator kennedy or a whole different version of romney? but i will say, the only way he's going to knock president obama off message is if he does show a side of himself that none of us have ever seen and that's the only way he's going to hit it out of the ballpark, is if he shows us who he really is:
>> you have prepped hillary clinton four years ago. if you were prepping the president tonight, what would you tell him? >> i would say take advantage of this format. it's 90 minutes. it's on substance. he has a very big advantage over romney in that he has policies and proposals. he knows where his policies are. they haven't shifted dramatically. he also understands mitt romney's policies and the lack of definition. so he has a lot of opportunity to define mitt romney because mitt romney has been so vague. so i would say keep the debate on substance. take it to governor romney on issues like taxes and energy policy where there has been a lack of definition and really communicate to the american people that they can't take a risk on mitt romney. that if you don't know where he stands on taxes and you don't know where he stands on energy, you can't take a risk that he
will do the right thing three months, four months from now. >> neera, people keep saying that romney isn't that good but he has shown that he's riz enrisen to the occasion. let me show you some of the clips. >> is he still the most anti-immigrant candidate? >> i would say of the four of us, yes. >> that's simply inexcusable. my father was born in mexico. my wife's father was born in wales. >> we discover to our shock that mitt romney owns shares of fannie m fannie mae and freddie mac. >> if he comes off aggressive, what should the president do? >> i actually think this is a real challenge for governor romney and if he falls into the trap of being as aggressive in
the primary, that will backfire. the difference is that in the primary nobody liked the republican candidates. so when mitt romney attacked newt gingrich or attacked rick santorum, he wasn't punished by voters for that because no one liked one of them more than the other. if he goes after the president very aggressively who is pretty popular with the american people, one of the most popular politicians in the country, frankly, i think there will be a backlash. people don't like him and he needs to get over that hump. and so he's in a box of being -- he needs to contrast with the president but he can't be too aggressive. >> can i just jump in real quickly? i think that we forget that romney is a great debater. we saw in the primaries that he was really everyone's favorite in the debates. so i think we can expect that he will do a good job. frankly, i would argue that he's more comfortable on the debate
stage than he is ordering a milk shake at mcdonald's. so i do think he's in his element on the debate stage. he will have memorized lines. the only way he's really going to, like i said, hit it out of the ballpark is to show us a side of him that he's never seen before and really surprise us. >> abby, let me ask you one question. the last time we had an i incumbent candidate that was challenged, ignoring bob dole's attempt to bring it on kind of. listen to this in their debate. >> mr. president, what do you say to senator dole's point that this election is about keeping one's word? >> when i ran for president, i said we could cut the deficit in half and we cut it by 60%. i said our economic plan would produce 8 minullion jobs and we
created 10 million jobs. >> i can only tell thaw i don't think senator dole is too old to be president. it's the age of his idea that i question. >> abby, if the president ignores him and goes as clinton did in '96, does that neutralize what you think is a good debater in mr. romney? >> that's exactly what mr. obama has to do. he has to remain calm and look like he is the commander in chief that he is for the united states and if he can -- if obama can be just who he is, there's no way that romney can get the narrative that he actually wants. but if obama can be himself, then i think that he will be just fine. >> abby, neera, thanks for your time and i think you're right, if the president is who he is and mr. romney is who he is, i think that will work to the president's favor. we'll be right back. >> thanks.
welcome back to "politicsnation." in just two hours, the two presidential candidates will debate their visions of america's future. i had the honor of addressing voters from a debate stage, too. back during my 2004 run for president. and while i looked a bit different then, my passion was the same as it is now. and these debates, it's important to show that passion. these candidates must try to
connect. >> what people don't understand is before you can turn people out, you have to turn people on. and the only way you're going to turn people on is you must address their interests and address their issues. >> these men must also expect the unexpected. in my 2004 campaign, protesters disrupted one debate and i had to roll in with it. >> you know i don't get to the black caucus debate and start acting up now. y'all respect our right to be heard like we respect everybody else. >> well, first let me say, to my dear friend reverend sharpton, amen. you have spoken the truth. >> i'll take that as an endorsement, but go ahead. >> now, we probably won't see protester tonight but we'll likely get a surprise or two.
voters will be watching to see if these men seem authentic. out there under the hot lights, there's no hiding, no way to fake it. >> speaking on the issues and interests of people that have been ignored, it's almost contradict industry to say, if you don't win, get out. did you come in to win or did you come in to stand up for something and make that win? >> and while pundits will obsess about who had the best ziner tonight, the american people want to hear ideas, solutions. >> people are suffering, people are literally choosing one month to buy prescription drugs and pay their rent the next month. they want answers. they don't want their next shot at one another. >> they want answers and leadership. that's what they will be looking for tonight. when i ran, i could give a good performance because people didn't expect me to win. but tonight one of these two men will either remain president o